NRDC, Partners Oppose Trump Administration Maneuver to Destroy Clean Water Rule

WASHINGTON  – The Natural Resources Defense Council and the National Wildlife Federation today asked the Supreme Court to reject a Trump administration effort to indefinitely delay the implementation of the Clean Water Rule while it moves to kill that rule. The groups were joined in this effort by the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League and One Hundred Miles, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center.

The administration’s bid, if successful, would enable it to prevent the rule’s safeguards from taking effect for the foreseeable future, without having to explain in ongoing litigation why it is abandoning the science and the law supporting the rule. Such a delay would effectively enable the administration’s plan to undo the rule’s protections, which President Trump kicked off in a February 28 executive order instructing Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers to reconsider the rule.

“The Trump administration is trying to avoid having to explain itself in court," said Jon Devine, senior attorney with the Water program at NRDC.  “The EPA and the Corps can’t support their current plan with science.  Instead, the administration wants to stall a court decision as long as possible, while it works to protect polluters. Rolling back the rule’s safeguards endangers critical bodies of water – including the streams that feed the drinking water supplies of more than 117 million Americans.”

“The Clean Water Rule deserves to be reviewed by an independent court on the basis of law and science,” said Jan Goldman-Carter, NWF’s water resources counsel.  “This is a rule developed over many years, based on robust scientific analysis and more than one million public comments.”


The Clean Water Rule, a long-awaited update to the Clean Water Act regulations, was issued in 2015 by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers.  

The Trump administration recently asked the Supreme Court to indefinitely delay the litigation while it considers a possible new rule. 

An appeals court is also reviewing the rule, but has postponed its own review while the Supreme Court considers a procedural issue.  If the high court delays the litigation, the consolidated appeals court case and the rule itself could be on hold long into the future.

The parties’ brief is available here.


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chicago; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

The National Wildlife Federation is America's largest conservation organization, uniting all Americans to ensure wildlife thrive in a rapidly changing world. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


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